What Are the Advantages of Pets?
                                                                                             By Brad Bell

            It may be a common view that there are a number of advantages or benefits of having pets.  However, a scientific answer to the question of the benefits or advantages of pet ownership may be inconclusive.  This seems to be due to the fact that, in most cases, it would not be reasonable or feasible to conduct a scientific study on the effects of pet ownership that would allow one to make causal conclusions.   Only the randomized experiment would allow for casual inferences because it is the only research method that has the potential to rule out all alternative explanations.  However, it may not be feasible to conduct a randomized experiment on pet ownership.  People have the choice of whether they are pet owners or not.  Thus, randomly assigning people to be a pet owner or not a pet owner in an experiment may not be realistic or feasible.  As a result, there may not be a clear and conclusive scientific answer to the question about the effects of pet ownership.

            Nonetheless, I provide some speculation on the possible advantages of having a pet in this article.  Below are five possible advantages of pet ownership.

1.     Greater Walking

           If one has a dog as a pet, it is possible that the person may walk more.  A dog owner may take the dog for a walk on a regular basis.  This may be more walking than if the person did not own a dog.  This walking may be beneficial to the pet owner.

2.    Companionship

            Having a pet may provide companionship.  However, having a pet is not a substitute for human companionship, and there may be no basis to conclude that having a pet may reduce all feeling of loneliness.  However, it may be reasonable to argue that having a pet may be especially beneficial for some people who live alone.

3.     Laughter

            Some pets may behave in a way that makes us laugh.  Laughter may generally be considered to be something that is positive.

4.     Being More Responsible

               Taking care of a pet may be a major responsiblity.  A person who becomes a pet owner might become a more responsible person as a result of having to take care of a pet.  This responsible behavior as a pet owner might transfer to other aspects of one's life, such as being more responsible at work.

5.     New Friendships

        Having some types of pets may lead to more conversations, and more conversations may lead to new friendships.  For example, a dog owner may engage in conversations with other dog owners who are taking their dogs for a walk in a park.